Fall TV: Dinosaurs, Bunnies and Horses, Oh My

OK, so “The Playboy Club” is canceled, “Terra Nova” held up pretty well in its second week, and “2 Broke Girls” aren’t looking broken ratings-wise. Some thoughts on each.

TN_pilot-Sc-01-2_BR-616[1]1. “Terra Nova’s” ratings for week two nearly equaled its much-ballyhood premiere, which suggests the audience that did tune in mostly came back. Creatively speaking, though, the show is hardly out of the woods.

Even more than the pilot, the family dynamics felt tired and stilted in the second episode. Fox has clearly taken the sharper edges in the original concept — including a strained parental relationship — and decided to get all soft and fuzzy with them. But since there’s only so much action this sort of series can provide without exploding its budget, that leaves a lot of ho-hum screen time.

Dinosaurs are swell, but as designed this program is going to live or die, ultimately, based on its human characters. And from what I’ve seen so far, there’s not enough dino-might in them to keep its prospects much above dino-maybe.

2. “The Playboy Club” was a nice-looking show, but an utterly stiff one. And after its second-week ratings drop, I won’t be surprised if ABC’s “Pan Am” — a frothier construct in a much better time period — winds up sinking before the year is up too.

Coming into the season I had misgivings about the appetite for these period pieces on the major networks. Call it the “Mad Men” delusion. In the consolation-prize dept., my guess is a considerable portion of the “Playboy” cast will be in high demand for pilots in 2012.

3. So far, the third best character on CBS“2 Broke Girls” is a horse with inordinately active bowels.

Relying on horseshit for laughs doesn’t bode well for the series.

The two stars are appealing enough, even if the writing hasn’t been. But they’re going to have to find some supporting characters beyond what’s already there, or far too much of the load is going to rest on those slim shoulders.

CBS is probably looking at the ratings and thinking, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

But the show’s broke. Unlike the girls, it just isn’t showing it yet. The time to start tinkering is right now.

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